Five greatest international cricketers from West Bengal
West Bengal has always been a hub of sporting activities in the country. Though football remains the most followed game here, cricket is played and discussed with seriousness at every nook and corner of the land. It is not a matter of surprise, therefore, to see the state producing quality cricketers at both domestic and international levels regularly.
At present, Bengal has a more than decent Ranji team capable of punching above its weight. It is also home to two-time Indian Premier League (IPL) champions and one of the most popular teams in the league, Kolkata Knight Riders. Among the current lot of players, Mohammed Shami has established himself as the first choice pacer in both forms of the game for Team India while Manoj Tiwary is fast emerging as a responsible middle order bat in the ODIs. Another state lad, Wriddhiman Saha is Indian cricket team’s first choice wicketkeeper in Tests.
Let us now take a look at the five greatest cricketers of all time from West Bengal. Though the state has produced a number of domestic cricket giants, this list includes only those players who have gone on to represent India in the international arena.
Unarguably the greatest cricketer from West Bengal, Sourav Chandidas Ganguly was Indian cricket’s Che Guevara. He was a revolutionary captain who instilled killer instincts into Indian players and taught them to win abroad. Taking over the reins of the team at a time when the image of Indian cricket had taken a dent following match fixing allegations against some of its players and a home series defeat against South Africa in 2000, Ganguly ushered in a new hope with his firebrand style of captaincy.
Under his stewardship, India registered Test victories in England (Headingley, 2002) and Australia (Adelaide, 2003), besides claiming a maiden series win on the soil of Pakistan in 2004. With 11 overseas wins, he is still India’s most successful captain abroad. He led India to World Cup final in 2003. He was also instrumental in shaping the careers of youngsters such as Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag who went on to serve Indian cricket with élan in the following years.
Ganguly, who comes from an affluent family of Kolkata, was a batsman par excellence too. The southpaw’s strokeplay oozed class and elegance. Former English opener and commentator Geoffrey Boycott referred to him as the prince of Kolkata while his teammate Rahul Dravid termed him ‘god of the off side’.
With a tally of 7212 runs at 42.17 from 113 Tests and 11363 runs at 41.02 from 311 ODIs, Dada, as he is fondly called, is regarded as one of India’s most prolific run scorers of all time.